A Winter Adventure in Churchill, Canada—One of the Best Places on Earth to See the Aurora Borealis
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the distinguished Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in the style of a French chateau, it remains the grande dame of Winnipeg hospitality. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers.
Day 2: Fly to Churchill—Town Tour & Aurora Viewing
Board our flight to Churchill this morning. On arrival, transfer to our hotel and take a brief tour of this historic settlement that was originally a Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post established in 1689. As night falls, we head out in hopes of our first chance to see the aurora borealis. The display often begins as a pale glow low in the northern sky that slowly begins to shift and undulate. Wavy patterns evolve, and the lights most often emerge as shimmering curtains of green. Sometimes other colors appear, too: yellow, red or even purple. For centuries, the phenomenon of the northern lights was a mystery, inspiring a host of mythical explanations. While we know now the aurora is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field, more poetic stories of their origin linger, including the Hudson Bay Inuit’s belief that the lights are the mystical display of their ancestors’ souls dancing in the sky.
Days 3–5: Aurora Viewing & Winter Adventures in Churchill
On these dark, icy nights in the Canadian North, we travel outside town to where views of the aurora are best, away from artificial light. Yet we don't stand outside in the cold as we wait for the lights to appear: each evening includes a vantage point where we can witness the phenomenon in warmth and comfort. Our custom-designed Aurora Pod® features 360-degree views of the night sky through clear glass ceiling and half-walls. We'll also look for the lights from circular Plexiglass Aurora Domes. Relax on the sofas below, climb the ladder to the upper level for an unimpeded view in the round, or head outside for a totally clear vista of the sky. As we marvel at the sky, there will be ample opportunities to capture coveted photos with tips from our Expedition Leader.
While our nights are devoted to watching the aurora, daytime excursions focus on local culture and the austere beauty of our tundra environs. Learn the art of igloo building while keeping an eye out for hardy northern wildlife such as Arctic hare and Arctic fox, artfully camouflaged by their winter-white fur coats. The historic town of Churchill offers encounters with interesting local people and roving sled dogs. Though the Hudson’s Bay Company established a fort here in 1717 as part of its fur-trading network across the Canadian North, indigenous cultures had already been flourishing in this harsh climate for thousands of years. We explore their heritage on a dog sled ride through the boreal forest, during a visit to the Itsanitaq Museum, and via cultural programs featuring the arts and traditions of the Inuit, Dene and Metis peoples.
Day 6: Churchill / Winnipeg
The morning is free to wander Churchill’s main street, where several locally owned shops sell authentic local handicrafts, from traditional mukluks to sculptures made of caribou hair. We then transfer to the airport for our return flight to Winnipeg, gathering one last time for a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
Please note: There will be no train itinerary in 2019. This is the only northern lights itinerary offered for the 2019 season. Scheduling for all activities in Churchill is flexible in order to accommodate varying weather conditions.
Physical Rating: Moderate